Wide-Ranging Home Care Consumer Protection Law Takes Effect
California recently enacted a law on home care licensing that went into place on January 1 of 2016. This law mandates the need for a new state license for certain companies (not all of them) that are providers of in-home care that is non-medical; it also requires those companies to employ only home care aides who have been registered and background-checked by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS).
The standards of the law benefit individuals who must hire home care workers (but this is only the case if licensed home care companies are used to provide those workers). If you are a resident of West Los Angeles and require caregiver services from a West Los Angeles home care company, you may want to take a look at the basics of this new law.
Goals and Background of the Law
As is described in the Written Directives, Version One of the law, the main goal when creating it was to increase consumer protection for those who receive the home care assistance of professionals. The law also mandates that the state provide an online registry, so clients can view the licensing status of the home care professionals sent to them by licensed home care companies. The strict requirements were intended to offer more protection to the vulnerable.
The Basic Requirements Under the New Law
Specific companies are now required to be licensed with the CDSS if they provide clients with workers who offer residential non-medical care. The companies that are affected can only employ home care aides whom the state has background-checked and registered. Such workers are also required to undergo training to fully understand the new requirements.
Who Is Required to Be Registered/Licensed?
The new California law affects certain workers and companies that provide non-medical care services in the home. The relevant services include planning and preparing meals, housekeeping, doing laundry, shopping for such things as groceries and personal care items), making calls via the telephone, assisting with transportation, and helping with correspondence. Additional non-medical services covered by the law include helping with personal grooming and similar activities, providing aid in dressing, bathing, and toileting issues, transferring, exercising, ambulating, and positioning.
This law specifically refers to workers who offer services as “Home Care Aides”.
Companies that EMPLOY Home Care Aides are required to be licensed before they can send employees to the homes of clients. “Home Care Organization” is the official term used to describe such a company.
The law has set forth very strict requirements for Home Care Organizations to become licensed. It also mandates that the state implement on-site audits that are unannounced, so the state may ensure that these companies adhere to the new regulations.
Unfortunately, this law does not require or allow agencies to be licensed if they are NOT the employers of the Home Care Aides they send to clients. In fact, they are NOT ALLOWED to obtain licensing as Home Care Organizations; these companies are generally known as either referral agencies or as registries.
In addition, the California law also doesn’t require licensing as Home Care Organizations of companies that provide skilled nursing or other medical services (licensed home health care agencies). Such companies can apply for such licensure though, and they may do so in order to assure clients that they are licensed Home Care Organizations.
Accredited Home Care is licensed both as a Home Health Care Agency and as a Home Care Organization in West Los Angeles!
Summary of Which Workers and Companies Must Be Registered/Licensed
- Registered Home Care Aides providing non-medical services (known as “private duty” services) are required to list in a statewide, online registry if they are sent to work in clients’ residences by companies that employ them. They must pay a registration fee and undergo a criminal background check that is fingerprint-based. They must be checked for TB and undergo annual training that is state-mandated.
- Licensed Home Care Organizations are required to be officially licensed by CDSS. Their staff members and owners must adhere to the same TB clearance and background check that the Home Care Aides are required to undergo.
Workers and Companies Exempt From the Licensing Regulations
Home care workers who are not employed by a Home Care Organization are not required to adhere to the registration and background check regulations. They may be individually registered if they want to do that – but they are not required by law to meet those regulations.
Organizations are not required to meet the licensing regulation unless they are recognized as Home Care Organizations. The organizations exempt from the law include county service providers, health facilities, residential care facilities for the elderly, employment agencies, licensed home health care agencies, and continuing care retirement communities.
When Considering Home Care Services, Keep This in Mind:
Due to the number of workers and companies exempt under this law, people who need the assistance of home care workers should be cautious when making a hiring choice. Employing private workers from an unlicensed company (one that is not a Home Care Organization) could result in the kind of problems that the law is meant to help clients avoid.
Referral agencies, registries, and other organizations that help aides find work (but do not employ them) do not need to be licensed, and the workers that they send to your home may not have been registered, TB-checked, or background-checked.
The safest strategy for West Los Angeles residents who require home care is to hire home care workers only from companies that are required to be licensed. If you hire a home care aide privately or through an agency, you could be vulnerable to negligence or worse. All clients deserve to be protected from such possibilities.
Photo by Justin Brockie